Teacher’s union boss Randi Weingarten gave a passionate speech outside the Supreme Court on Tuesday in support of Joe Biden’s $10,000 debt relief program, which has been stalled in state courts fighting it. Weingarten criticized the courts for blocking student debt relief, saying it was ‘not fair’ that the relief provided to small businesses during the pandemic was not challenged, but student debt relief is. She argued that corporations and student loan lenders were challenging the relief, which was unfair and unjust.
Following a series of legal challenges, including from six GOP states, the nine justices will hear arguments for Biden’s plan to eliminate up to $20,000 in individual federal student loan debt, which could cost taxpayers as much as $400 billion. Biden’s plan would forgive $10,000 in student loans for those making less than $125,000 and married couples making less than $250,000 jointly. Forgiveness would go up to $20,000 if the borrower received a Pell grant.
A ruling from the Supreme Court puts more on the line than student loans. If the court decides that Biden’s executive action is unconstitutional, it could give more power to states’ legal challenges against federal policymaking. Republicans immediately denounced Biden’s order as unfair to those who didn’t go to college and would need to help pay through taxes for the forgiveness plan, or to those who have already paid off their loans or never took out loans.
On the other hand, some activists said that the plan didn’t go far enough, claiming that all student loan debt should be wiped clean. Weingarten argued that the issue is about the people’s future and that all student debt should be canceled.
Six Republican-led states challenged President Biden’s proposal, claiming that the administrative process needed to go through a proper comment and response period and also claims that it was an overreach. The 6-3 conservative majority will give the final say on the matter after it worked its way up through the court system.
Biden’s legal basis for trying to cancel a portion of student debt is a 2003 law known as the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act, better known as the HEROES Act. Implemented after the September 11, 2001, terror attack, the law was intended to keep service members from being worse off financially while deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now extended, the law allows Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to grant relief in times of national emergency – in this case, COVID-19.
Student loan borrowers have been thrown into a year of uncertainty. Biden’s announcement for forgiveness in August also came with him declaring the last extension of student loan deferment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that people would need to resume regular payments on January 1, 2023. However, the president decided to extend the moratorium until the summer, when the Supreme Court’s term typically ends, and an opinion must be issued on the case. Since the program launched, 26 million borrowers have applied for the relief despite its limbo status. The White House continues to insist that its approach is legally sound.»Teacher’s union boss Randi Weingarten delivers passionate speech«